San Diego Padres prospect Q&A: Our 1-on-1 with Jackson Merrill

Before the 2023 Futures Game in Seattle, we talked with San Diego Padres top prospect Jackson Merrill about his season and what lies ahead.

San Diego Padres shortstop prospect Jackson Merrill
San Diego Padres shortstop prospect Jackson Merrill / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE — Jackson Merrill doesn't have a lot of time. After all, he needs to get in some hitting work around doing interviews before it's time to step into the batting cage at a sun-splashed T-Mobile Park and get ready to represent the San Diego Padres in the 2023 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

There's a lot to do here in the Pacific Northwest for the 20-year-old shortstop who is listed as the top prospect for the Padres by But don't for one minute think that Merrill isn't soaking up every moment of being a part of this Saturday before the Midsummer Classic.

"I'm just trying to have fun honestly," Merrill smiled. "In the season, it's win, win, win. Win the first half. Win the second half. Win a championship. Here, we want to win still, but I get to play with a lot of guys I don't get to play with usually, so I'm just here to have fun and enjoy my time."

While it's certainly about fun, Merrill is still in Seattle to help refine his craft, telling me he picked the brains of one of the NL hitting coaches before stepping into the cage. Merrill will step into the spotlight on Saturday afternoon, but he's still working in the background to get better at his craft.

Entering Saturday slashing .280/.318/.444 with 12 doubles, two triples and 10 home runs for High-A Fort Wayne, Merrill started 2023 a little slow, putting up a .177/.246/.339 slash line in his first 62 at-bats of the season. However, when the calendar turned to May, Merrill's health began to improve (starting the campaign battling an illness) and his bat began to heat up as well.

"I am who I am. This is who I've always been," Merrill said of his recent hitting. "I'm going to hit at some point. It just took a little bit longer this year, so that was kind of annoying. I understood it was cold and a little more difficult than what I've been facing. Now that I'm in a groove, I feel really good."

Part of that groove included a four-hit effort on the Fourth of July, part of 24 at-bats this month that have the 27th overall pick in the 2021 MLB draft posting a scorching .458/.519/.625 slash line.

"I was really picking up the ball pretty well the last two weeks," Merrill said. "We had an away series the week before this one. The first game (June 29) was like the worst game ever. I had four punchies (strikeouts) and I was like, 'What's going on?' I came back and the rest of the week, the swing felt amazing. It was just one of those games. How I've been hitting over the last week, that's what I intended to do before I got out of there."

Coming to Seattle to represent the Padres is fun and perhaps a mental break for Merrill. However, when he returns to the Tin Caps, he said his goals are very simple.

"I love to get asked the question about my goals, because I always give out the same answer, and that's to win," Merrill said. "If you win, then you're obviously doing stuff right. That's really my only goal is to win."